Bothersome plants and animals are why people turn to pesticides and herbicides to protect their houses. But can herbicides be good? When I think herbicide I think about white powder that burns your fingers when you touch it. That is not good. Herbicides aren’t selective on what they destroy. On the other hand, the plants you want to keep could always be re-planted once you get rid of the weeds.
Just a few short hours from my hometown is Cayuga lake. You can view my personal tales about camping there under the page called “All I See is Green”. Cayuga lake has had problems with the Hydrilla plant. The vine thrives on the surface of freshwater bodies and if it becomes wildly successful, it can change the way a water body looks. Unfortunately, fish can get stuck in the leaves and that’s why the plant isn’t loved by all. Activists in Tompkins County recently switched from using the herbicide endothall in the lake to fluridone. Endothall was faster acting but required the lake to be closed during the administration period, thus the slower acting herbicide was put to use.
I got thinking, are using herbicides and physical removal the only way to get rid of unwanted species of plants? There’s got to be an easier method of returning the environment to the way it was. Here are the other methods I found:
- chickens, sheep, goats, and others: to munch the plant to extinction
- cultural control: make natural plants more competitive by fertilizing, planting seeds, etc.
In each case the application best suited to the species at large can vary. For instance, if the plant has already germinated, do not use the mowing technique as it will only spread the seeds. Otherwise you must consider the pros and cons to each method. You may even decide to learn to live with your “pests”!